Unacceptable platitude #7: “Fair does not mean equal.”

“Fair does not mean equal” is a convenient phrase that is overly used in situations in which inequality exists and the ability to mitigate that inequality either doesn’t exist for structural or financial reasons or is beyond the intellectual and creative abilities of the people in charge to eliminate altogether. 


In other words, yes, “fair does not mean equal” is sometimes applicable.

More often, however, “fair does not mean equal” its supervisory nonsense spouted by a manager, teacher, or parent who is incapable or unwilling to reach an equitable solution for their subordinates. It’s a phrase that is often friendly to the budget and the people in charge and detrimental and demeaning to the people for whom it is being applied. 

Fair should mean equal whenever possible.

Fair should almost always mean equal.

Fair meaning equal should be the goal.

Don’t ever allow this management-friendly phrase to stand as truth.

Unacceptable platitude #6: “I never said I was perfect.”

“I never said I was perfect.”

Criticizing someone does not imply that you are questioning their level of perfection. Discard this platitude like the piece of trash it is. 

Besides, you probably never assumed that they were perfect. Especially someone stupid enough to say something like “”I never said I was perfect.”

Point this out to them, too. 


Unacceptable platitude #5: “It’s not the worst thing.”

In the past two days, two people have used told me that “It’s not the worst thing” in an attempt to mitigate my level of annoyance.

On Sunday, I was asked to remove my hat from a restaurant in New York City. This is a request that never sits well with me, and for good reason.  When I protested, declaring that the restaurant was “dead to me,” I was reminded that being asked to remove my hat is not the worst thing in the world.

Yesterday a colleague told me that keeping me waiting nearly 20 minutes for a meeting “isn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened.”

Both times, the person was correct. These petty annoyances were not the worst things in the world.

However, I do not live my life with expectations as low as “the worst thing.” Nor should I be expected to do so.

Just imagine what an awful, terrible, no good life we would lead if the best we could ever expect was slightly better than the worst thing.

“It’s not the worst thing” is an attempt to mitigate concerns and complaints through comparison. It is an unacceptable platitude because there is always a worse thing, always a person suffering more, always a more difficult circumstance, but this does not mean we should walk through life in perpetual satisfaction because we are at least one notch better than someone else. 

More importantly, people have a right to expect more. 

This includes wearing a baseball cap at Sunday brunch and expecting punctuality in the workplace.

Unacceptable platitude #4: "To each his own.”

It’s been a long time since I added to my list of unacceptable platitudes. Past platitudes include: “That’s your opinion.”

“Nobody’s perfect.”

“At least I admit my faults.”

Today I offer you a new one.

“To each his own”

“To each his own” is ridiculous. It is a statement that seeks to exonerate all human beings of any and all actions ever taken. It implies that judging a person’s actions or words is not valid or acceptable because each person has the right to say or do whatever he or she wishes.

This is stupid.

In practice, it looks like this:

“Yes, it’s true, Melissa’s four year old son only eats hotdogs and candy corn when the family goes to restaurants, and yes, their son still sleeps in a toddler bed in Melissa’s room, and yes, her son can only fall asleep if the television is on, but to each his own.”

No. Not true. Melissa is an idiot and a lunatic.

If “to each his own” was actually a valid bit of discourse, all form of political discourse would immediately be rendered invalid and meaningless. Philosophical and religious debate would come to an end. Disagreements of almost every kind would be unnecessary. Regardless of what your friend, neighbor or family member was saying or doing, you would never need to disagree or even comment because “to each his own.”

From a rhetorical perspective, “to each is own” is often a metaphorical mark of punctuation that a person uses in desperation when all other attempts to win an argument have failed. It is the sign that your opponent has lost the argument and  simply wishes to extract him or herself from the disagreement with a shred of dignity.

Don’t allow such stupidity to stand unchallenged.

Unacceptable platitude #3: “That’s your opinion.”

“That’s your opinion.” For clarification, this statement, and ones similar to it, are often made after a person states an opinion in the midst of a heated argument.

For example:

“No, I think chunky monkey is a the stupidest ice cream on the planet.  Strawberry is clearly the best. It’s simple. It’s classic. It’s known by all.  Sometimes it contains actual strawberries. And you’re not left wondering if it’s made from actual monkey bits. Strawberry rocks.”

“That’s your opinion, monkey-face!”

One of the nice things about learning to distinguish between fact and opinion in elementary school is that this universal knowledge base mitigates the need to say “in my opinion” after stating an opinion.

So when I say that Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball history or that Sarah Palin would make a frightening President or that Ranch dressing is the most vile substance known to man, we all know that these are opinions, no matter how forcefully or with how much certainty I may state them.

Yes. It’s an opinion. We all know it’s an opinion. We know the difference between fact and opinion.

Just like it is an opinion when I tell you that you are a moron for defining my opinion as an opinion.

Distinguishing an opinion does not qualify as a valid verbal rebuttal.

In our world, we do not need to differentiate facts and opinions as we speak.

We all just do it in our heads.


Unacceptable platitude #2: “Nobody’s perfect.”

“Nobody’s perfect.” Your perfection was never in question. In fact, it wasn’t even in the universe of possibility, so to imply that I might not have been aware of your imperfection only serves to highlight how far from perfect you are.

Furthermore, how do you know that nobody’s perfect?

Do you know everybody?

Philosophers can’t even agree on the definition of perfection, and yet you are ready to declare that all 7 billion people on Earth are, sight unseen, imperfect?


Unacceptable platitude #1: “At least I admit my flaws.”

“At least I admit my flaws.” How is this supposed to help me? I already know that you’re an idiot.  Acknowledging your stupidity has no value to me.

At least I admit my flaws? At least? This platitude is in no way an acknowledged means defending one’s position, nor is the passive-aggressive implication that I fail to admit to my flaws any form of accepted counterattack.

Maybe I have no flaws.

Maybe one as admittedly flawed as you has no business assessing the potential flaws in another human being.

Besides, I wasn’t looking for a confession. I was hoping that instead of admitting to your flaws, you would get rid of them, or at least not display them so prominently in my presence.

Cracked egg